How do you define a professional? While there is certainly not a single answer to this question, here is a proposal – time spent in practice. In his book “The outliers” Malcolm Gladwell explores this topic and argues that if you want to become a professional in any field, you have to spend practicing specific tasks for at least 10 000 hours.
Now take a look at your gameplay hours. If you are at least a hardcore gamer you probably have more than 5000 hours already. So, do you feel like a semi-professional player? Are you ready to conquer top tier players? If you have ambitions of becoming a professional gamer and the answer to these two questions is “no”, then you are doing something wrong. But don’t worry. By the end of this article you will be armed with valuable tools which you could apply to instantly boost your performance.
1. Kill your “junk hours” and play with intention
Are you tired of constantly grinding and gaining no significant progress? Scientific research reveals that if athletes play with deliberate focus and goal-setting they dramatically boost their performance and speed progression in training.
While it may seem obvious that we perform better if we’ve mapped out a clear goal and strategy, a lot of players blindly chase the 10 000 hour mark and rarely think about the quality of their practice time. Just remember that it’s not about how much practice time you put in; it’s about what you put into the practice time. So the first thing you could do to instantly improve your performance is to start playing with intention. This means that next time when you log into the server ask yourself “What are my goals in the next few hours?” and “How do I achieve them?” Asking yourself such questions and following certain goals would help you play with purpose instead of mindless grinding.
2. Leave your comfort zone and challenge yourself
When you play for a significant amount of time you develop behavioral and “technical” in-game habits which shape your own unique playing style. Over time, your playing style becomes your comfort zone. Now imagine a player with 5000 or more gameplay hours who plays without setting any specific goals and practices with no deliberate intention. What would become of his playing style? He would create a toxic comfort zone which would not only kill his current performance but could threaten his future development as a successful professional player.
The most straightforward way to expand your comfort zone in a progressive way is to challenge yourself. This means intentionally acquiring new skill or putting yourself in difficult situations during play. For example if you underperform in clutch moments, you should include more of these situations in your practice. The more you challenge yourself intentionally the more experience you get. The more experience you get the more improvement you achieve.
3. Take ownership and track your progress
Taking ownership is scary. It could involve a potential failure and hurt your ego. That’s why a lot of players avoid it. But guess what would hurt your ego even more? Another 5000 + hours and no significant achievements. Taking ownership over your progress would help you in a lot of ways but the most important are: tracking your progress in real time and becoming more confident in your game. So start taking ownership over your progress today. There are a lot of ways to do that, and they could involve self-paced exercises, training journals, working on feedback given from your coach or teammates, tracking statistics etc. If you’ve never tracked your progress deliberately before, you should start with something simple. For example, write down these three questions and set a period of time in which you would consistently answer them.
1) What did I do that was good? 2) What do I need to do to get better? 3) What changes should I make to become my best?
Be honest and track your progress on a daily or at least weekly basis.
If you found this content useful, please share it with your teammates or colleagues. If you would like to discuss this topic further, have any other struggles with your performance or would like to improve yourself overall, send me an email at email@example.com.
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